Friday, April 19, 2013

escaping landscaping

It takes a bit of planning, and bit of grumbling, and a lot of self talk to get me to nonschool related, parenting, or child related evening activities.  But last night, after inconveniencing every member of my family, I got myself back to the Cumberland County Beekeepers Club monthly meeting.

I have my hive boxes painted.  I have my foundation just about into my frames...ok, let's be honest...the frames and foundation are sitting in stacks on the deacons bench next to me, undone.  But judge not.  I am told I will receive a two week warning before my package bees arrive.  Plenty of time to venture into the scary basement and find the right tools, or probably tools that will do, and put the foundation in the frames.  Shhh.  Don't tell my bee mentor.  I will get it done.

And I have chosen the site on our property for where these first two hives will sit.  I focused on sun exposure (eastern facing), windbreak (behind the garden shed to its northeast), private (facing the dead neighbors, not the alive ones), accessible by garden cart, and oriented toward the river as a water source rather than the nearby pool (my kids are on board the bee train, they just don't want to swim with them).

Last night two of the invited speakers were David Homa and Gretchen Voight of Resilient Roots, a permaculture education center in our area.  Given my aforementioned love of finding reasons to leave the mower in the barn, I perked up when David began by describing himself as a landscaper that was going to kill our lawn.

The idea of throwing out white clover seeds and buying actual dandelion seeds makes me a bit weak in the knees. Because last fall? I needed to do a google search to find out what a winch was. Because Jonathan, while mowing the slope between the lawn and the beginning of the steep slope down to the river got stuck. A combination of the slope, wet earth, and probably a certain degree of ignorance, got the lawn mower tractor that had been kindly left for us to use by the previous owners stuck. The mower spent the better part of a week down there, next to the blackberry patch. I was beginning to think I was going to need to turn it into some kind of quaint garden art. Maybe put a few pots around it, spray paint it festive colors and install a fountain on the steering wheel.

We worked at getting it unstuck almost everyday.  For a week.  Nothing makes you feel more like a grownup than to have your parents arrive unexpectedly to find you arguing with your grumpy husband while pushing and pulling and crowbarring your lopsided and completely immoveable mower on the hillside.

My father mentioned a winch.  That we needed one.  I nodded.  And waited for him to leave, before I ran inside, pulled out my laptop and googled winches.  I did not know what one was.  But it did not sound like a nice word.

We now own a winch.  It lives in the barn next to the mower.  It is sparkly and stainless steel.  I am sure we will need it again.  And yes, the mower was retrieved and returned to it's barn parking spot.  And has not been out again.

I have plans this summer to cover the slope, now rutted with the spinning tire marks, with clover and other bee forage of the non-mower maintenance variety.

Dandelions and clover sounds like an awesome start.  And I think David Homa is our new best friend.

Gretchen then spoke about her ideas for how we can create bee friendly landscaping around our hives with natural plant deterrents for mites and other bee sicknesses and beneficials to strengthen the hives.  All in hopes of a more sustainable and natural manner of bee tending, less dependent upon chemical treatment of the hives when they become sick.  I was converted.

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